Friday, July 8, 2011

The importance of mentors in family medicine

Saying that my medical alma mater, NYU School of Medicine, isn't known as a school that produces family physicians is a gross understatement. Actually, it routinely ranks last in the nation in the number of students matching to Family Medicine residency programs. My class of 2001, which sent 4 students to such programs, was a one-time aberration.

So how did I get started in family medicine? I give a great deal of credit to the Reading Hospital and Medical Center, which allowed me to do an elective rotation in their residency program from June through July 2000. But what inspired me to look into family medicine rotations in the first place? I recently came across a 13-year old letter I wrote to my cousin's husband (then a family medicine resident training in Minnesota) that gives part of the answer, and speaks to the vital importance of finding mentors for medical students who are interested in primary care careers.


November 15, 1998

Dear Daniel,

I hope that life in Minnesota has been treating you well! So far I have been enjoying the second year of medical school at NYU. The classes have been much more interesting than last year’s, and while I still have a long way to go, I’m slowly beginning to believe that I might someday know enough to take care of patients.

Last month we had a speaker come to talk about rotations and residencies in Family Medicine, and that made me wonder how you were doing. Is this the first or second year of residency? How do you like it? How many years are left to go? Where (geographically and what kind of community) do you plan on practicing after it’s over?

Since I haven’t even started my clerkships, I don’t really know which field interests me most, but since NYU doesn’t have a Department of Family Medicine, I thought it might be a good idea to gather information from outside sources that I know I can trust. I’ve spent several summers working with children, so the natural choice would seem to be pediatrics, but I would love to hear your perspectives on taking care of families while raising one of your own.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and best wishes to you and the kids.


Thank you, Dan.